Friday 19 January 2018

'We don't want to be martyrs, but we are not turning back'

Fergus Black

IRISH citizens on board the last ship in the now-disbanded Middle East aid flotilla last night said they did not want to become "heroes or martyrs" as their voyage takes them nearer and nearer to the coast of Gaza.

"We don't want to be heroes or martyrs but we have to keep going ahead," Jenny Graham from Ballina, Co Mayo, told the Irish Independent.

The Irish-owned 'MV Rachel Corrie', carrying 1,000 tonnes of aid, continued its lonely journey and was last night about 530 miles (836km) from the coast of Gaza, where it expects to be intercepted by the Israeli Navy.

On board the 1,200-tonne vessel are 19 people -- five Irish and six Malaysian passengers together with a crew of eight.

"We are nervous. We are scared. We are regular people. We don't want to be heroes or martyrs, but we have to keep going," Ms Graham added.

"People are anxious but we are not turning back unless we really, really have to."

The 'Rachel Corrie', which had originally set out with the rest of the flotilla, got left behind as it was forced to dock in Malta for engine repairs.

Last night it continued alone and was not expecting contact from the Israeli authorities until it is nearer its destination.

Ms Graham, who is on board with her husband Graham, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, former UN assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday and filmmaker Fiona Thompson from Dundalk, said they still expected to reach Gaza's 30-mile limit tomorrow night or early Saturday.


Despite a bout of seasickness among her fellow passengers, spirits were high and they knew from the little information they had that the Irish people supported them.

"It's amazing, we are on our own out here but we know there are a lot of people behind us. We will not put anybody at risk and there will be no lives lost on this boat but we are very determined to continue," she said.

Mrs Graham admitted they were all nervous, especially after the storming of the rest of the flotilla on Monday.

"Everybody was scared after that but we are doing this for Gaza, we are doing it for the colleagues we lost on Monday. We are the last ship sailing but we are very determined."

After Monday's tragedy unfolded, all the passengers sat down and discussed what they would do, but there was never any doubt about turning back.

Irish Independent

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